Sanzaar has released a set of guidelines outlining the decision-making process to deal with Vodacom Super Rugby matches affected by poor air quality.
The move comes as a result of the ongoing bushfire crisis in Australia, which have caused havoc across the country. The bushfires have resulted in the deaths of 33 people and over a billion animals since September, destroying an overall area roughly the size of Greece.
Super Rugby will kick off on Friday when the Blues host the Chiefs in Auckland, but of more concern for organisers will be the Australian derby between the Brumbies and Reds in Canberra.
Canberra was recently hit by a wave of smoke which forced the cancellation of a T20 cricket match, with the Brumbies having to move their pre-season training to nearby Newcastle.
The new guidelines will take into account particulate matter at the match venue, the Air Quality Index, weather forecasts and other environmental factors at the venue, as well as if players are exhibiting signs, or reporting symptoms, of distress.
The decision whether a game goes ahead would be made by a panel of medical staff, match officials, venue operations staff and Super Rugby administrators.
Under Sanzaar rules, if conditions are deemed unsafe before kick-off or during the first half and the game is abandoned, then the match is declared a draw and the four competition points shared.
Sanzaar CEO Andy Marinos said: ‘It has been an extraordinary summer in Australia to date and we deeply sympathise with all those individuals and communities who have been impacted by the bush fires.
‘Naturally, the continued welfare of our players and indeed spectators is a priority for us should such incidents continue to affect the Australian landscape. It is therefore prudent of us to put in place these guidelines with our stakeholders.’
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